The design of any workplace will directly influence the levels of collaboration and productivity within any company, believes DHL Express Asia Pacific.
This can be anything from providing flexible, common areas which can serve a variety of purposes depending an individual’s or group’s objectives, to ensuring the well-being of employees during their time at work.
With this in mind, DHL Express' offices in Vietnam and Thailand have recently undergone redesigns, enabling the culture to be adopted throughout the Asia Pacific region.
The Thailand office now consists of 10 collaboration spaces along with a 230 square-meter break-out area which includes a library, massage room and fitness area. The breakout fitness area is used for intra-company sports and recreation teams, which employees are encouraged to form.
A Mateen, SVP of HR, DHL Express Asia Pacific, says: "These spaces support DHL’s initiatives towards driving high performance without compromising on collaboration and team work. We place great emphasis on developing behaviours that reflect the company’s culture of 'respect' and 'results."
One example of how this is supported is the Certified International Manager programme through which all employees are given the opportunity to develop their own high performance behaviours.
Different individuals achieve higher productivity through different means, so office spaces need to be flexible enough to accommodate for a variety of working styles.
The break-out spaces in DHL Express' offices allow for greater collaboration by removing physical barriers between desks or cubicles. When individuals need to focus, acoustic ceilings and mobile partitions are used to reduce distracting noise and light.
Environmental aspects also directly impact productivity, in Mateen's view. He adds that natural lighting, ergonomic furniture and live plants are known to promote psychological health thus boosting productivity.
"Our Vietnam office maximises these three aspects by using glass walls, chairs and desks that minimise spinal pressure, and designated areas of greenery which naturally improve air quality and regulate humidity," he adds.
"If innovation and collaboration are part of your company’s culture, you need to provide your people with spaces that are similarly open, flexible and inspiring in both form and function," says Mateen.
Walking around the office and interviewing a range of employees can reveal what helps and what hinders productivity and wellbeing.
For this, DHL conducts an annual employee opinion survey, where employees can provide confidential and honest feedback on aspects such as whether or not they are pleased with the office environment.
The senior management teams also conduct regular Gemba walks, where they walk the floor to better understand the surroundings that employees work in.
As a result, Mateen encourage companies to be intentional about all aspects of redecoration. Often, seemingly insignificant things such as the colour of the walls or the layout of desks could greatly influence the psychological health of employees.
Choosing a right colour for a room can help create a more comfortable and stimulating environment for employees.
For example, the Vietnam team uses a well-balanced palette of neutral colours such as black, white, grey and silver to encourage relaxation, while in Thailand the new office layout reduces the number of turns and steps needed to move between departments.
Office redesigns should also strive to support employees with a full range of communication options. Wireless connectivity, projectors, and audio infrastructure are all essentials for effective collaboration, particularly with other offices around the world, in Mateen's view.
"Workplace designs need to remember these basics even while incorporating innovative features and insights into our behaviour," he concludes.
All images: Provided